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I've Got a Translation, Now What?
Once you have a translation you like, what’s next? How do you then go about reading the Bible? Below are some practical steps on becoming a comprehensive Bible reader.
- Have a plan. While the scriptures are God-breathed, and God can certainly speak anywhere and anytime God wants using the scriptures, it’s best to have a reading plan. There are lots out there. Our staff is putting together a reading plan for us using the YouVersion App (which is available on your smartphones). Some technologies will email or text you a selection of Bible texts to read.
- Pay attention to what kind of writing it is. Is the Bible text a narrative? Most of the Old Testament is a narrative of the story of Israel, and how God formed the people of Israel. The Gospels are narratives of the life, death, teaching, and resurrection of Jesus. Is the text a poem? Is it a prophetic writing? Is it a letter? Once you understand what type of writing it is, the Bible is easier to understand.
- Learn to ask good questions of the Bible. Some include – what is God doing in the story of this text? How is God asking that person/group of people to change? How does this text apply to my life? What would my life look like if I applied this?
- Read the Bible out loud. You will catch phrases when you read it out loud that you would not if you merely read it in your head. It also helps to add inflection to the conversation. You will be surprised to hear yourself speak the words of God out loud.
- Read the Bible in community. Read it with friends. Read it with Sunday School classes. Read it with scholars through good commentaries (NT Wrights’ For Everyone is excellent. The Story of God Bible commentary is excellent as well). Other people will see something in the text that you did not. You will learn from one another.
In 2019, I want to challenge you to become a better Bible reader. This is not for the sake of crossing off a to-do religious activity. Rather, we encounter God in the scriptures. Take these tips to heart and start reading!